Trust — one of the main pillars of a stable, lasting friendship. Of course, every relationship has its obstacles and inevitable moments of uncertainty, but when that thread of trust is woven strong, the bond can withstand all ups and downs.
A recent article from The New York Times explored the trust issues that many Americans have with the medical profession. Confidence in medical leaders has been dwindling for decades, which can begin to pose many problems for public health and safety.
For some healthcare professionals, it’s all about business — getting patients to join, getting them in the door and getting them out as quick as possible to make room for more. These are the types of patient relationships that are negatively affecting the trust that needs to be instilled in the medical profession.
Patients are essentially putting their lives in the hands of medical professionals, so that element of trust is the absolute most important aspect of this relationship. Establishing trust can be done in a number of different ways, from building a personality for the organization to connecting directly on a personal level with prospective patients.
Create Meaningful Connections
Instead of positioning a medical organization as a service, position it as a friendship — we call this Brand as Friend®. In the healthcare industry, “brands” are the organizations and “friends” are the patients. Treat patient relationships with the same care that you would your own friendships. An individual’s health is a very personal thing, so treating it as a business transaction will not help to build the rapport that is essential to maintaining a strong patient base and growing a practice.
The three main pillars of any great friendship — affection, relevance and trust — must be top of mind when building out marketing plans to capture an audience and keep them engaged. Medical professionals can show prospective patients they really care and connect on a more personal level by researching pain points or areas of interest and addressing them head on.
Medical organizations must shift their mindsets to seeing patients as more than just clients. For instance, if someone is running late for a dinner with friends, they would let their friends know. If a doctor’s office is behind on appointments, a simple notification to patients could go a long way and make a lasting impression. For many relationships, it’s the little things that mean the most.
As another example, our recent study of new moms found that younger moms want more from their OB-GYN offices. Prenatal massage was among some of the services that made their list. Not only having this service available, but making sure patients know about the new service will help to build trust. This type of tactic shows patients that their needs and wants are important. Patient expectations are rapidly changing, and marketing plans need to reflect these shifts.
A Simple Step toward Building Trust
Something as simple as clarity in communication — another essential part of a lasting friendship — can work wonders for building trust. The New York Times piece stated, “Clear, transparent communication and a history of fulfilled trust are important, and health care providers can also build trust by disclosing conflicts of interest; creating expectations for long-term relationships; and promoting shared interests and smaller power differences with patients.”
Healthcare professionals who are transparent with their patients build the highest levels of trust. For example, sharing a patient’s medical notes with them, creating clear goals for their health and checking in on those goals from time to time represent a genuine interest in the patient’s well-being.
Once lost, trust is not something that can easily be regained. Truly listening to patients and taking a sincere interest in their lives will help to build lasting bonds and tell a story about your practice that is sure to spark new relationships.